Millennials Love Philly—But Not Enough to Stay

Pew Charitable Trusts report hurts our feelings.

The Inquirer says that Philadelphia’s much-heralded millennial revolution is just a mirage.

Yes, the age group 20-34 accounts for a quarter of the city’s population, but half of those kids are going to up and move out the city when the kids come. There they will pine for the city and the artistic life, like some 21st century version of Revolutionary Road, until tragedy born of ennui shatters their lives.

Or so we assume.




Inky points to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts to make the case:

The surge from 2006 through 2012, primarily in neighborhoods surrounding Center City, has helped reverse population decline and lifted the percentage of Philadelphia's young adults into line with New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, according to Millennials in Philadelphia, by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The findings reflect a "promising but fragile boom," Pew cautioned, because half of these young adults said they would likely move out of the city in five to 10 years in search of better schools and stronger career prospects elsewhere.

"Only 36 percent of millennials said they would recommend the city as a place to raise children, while 56 percent would not," wrote the report's author, Larry Eichel, project director of Pew's Philadelphia Research Initiative. "With many young adults starting to raise families or thinking about doing so, this view is not a positive sign."

All those books from the last few years about how surburbia is dying? They lied to us.

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  • DTurner

    Or…it could be more nuanced than this. This is simply a reminder that this migration trend is not set in stone, Millennials like myself will move to the suburbs if city services do not improve and if they believe that they can get more of what they want in the suburbs. If anything, this should be a wakeup call to the city that it needs to do more to keep people here than expecting that the influx of young residents will continue. There are simply too many “urbanized suburbs” and other cities that can compete with the city to make intransigence a viable option.

    Also, its more likely the newer suburbs (or exburbs) are the communities that will die out, the inner suburbs are likely to be the primary beneficiary of millennials’ movement towards more urbanized locales.

    • wondertwinalpha

      You could also stay and work to change the things you don’t like about the city. I hear your comments a lot from people. “Schools, services, politics, taxes need to improve or I will move.” This is not a solution. It’s selfish in the scheme of things. Don’t expect others to fix things for you. You should fix the schools for your kids to come or vote in new leadership or lobby for tax reform. Talk about a throw away society. Now we throw away cities when we are done with them? So much for a generation that will do things differently. Revolution indeed, sounds like the same old same old to me.

      I also have to chuckle when people assume they are going to be the last group of young folks that enjoy all a city has to offer. You will move to an inner suburb with your pre-K kids and a new young person will take your place in the exciting and culture rich city. None of this is new, even if it is made to sound “revolutionary”.

      • Stein

        Why are these new young people moving in to the exciting and culture rich city? Why don’t they stay where they were and make that place exciting and culture rich?

        • Natalie

          Many are coming to Philly for the great higher education opportunities and then stay here after graduation. Nothing wrong with young people moving to an environment that fits them. I moved here because I got a job here. I stayed because I love the city for many things you can’t get in other areas.

      • DTurner

        Well, we are trying to do something (see YIP, Campus Philly, etc.), the problem has been trying to convince “old” Philadelphians that adjustments must be made to the status quo in order to keep people here. People will try to change things for only so long before they feel like they can get more of what they want elsewhere. We need to realize that while these folks might go to the suburbs, they are just a likely to leave the city for another city where they feel like they can make a greater difference. This is not a city-vs-suburbs situation, Philly is now in more direct competition with other cities for young skilled labor than ever before.

        Also, I have no expectations that the current demographic shift is highly unique. It is the scale of the migration that is unique and could be a game-changer for Philadelphia by dramatically increase the wealth and economic power of the city and region.

  • aj

    This isn’t rocket science. The City Wage Tax, Car Insurance and Real Estate cost per square foot all take a huge bite out of a paycheck..

  • Stein

    Look at the political, economic, and cultural leaders who are strangling Philadelphia. Why would I want to commit myself and my family to being subject to their foolish, irresponsible nonsense.

    Want some examples? Read any page of PhillyMag.com.